wise

We’ve concocted a beautiful little children’s story out of Jesus’ birth.

You have a barn, a mom and dad, and then there are some sheep, donkey, probably some goats and in my mind there has to be a rooster there somewhere. Of course, don’t forget the angel, they are very beautiful in the Christmas pageant every year. There are some raggedy shepherds too, naturally they smell awful.

The fact that Jesus’ birth can be brought into the lives of children in a visual way that makes them excited every year is wonderful. But as we grow older, I think we have a tendency to get too comfortable with that version of Jesus’ birth.

Some of the events surrounding his appearance in our world were life and death. Herod killed every single boy that was two years and younger in all of Bethlehem and its vicinity. It was a massacre. How the parents must have felt as the soldier forced their way through the town, killing as they went house to house.

It’s intriguing how God chose shepherds for the angel to appear in front of on that hillside. They were the lowest of low, the dirtiest of the dirty. People avoided them because they smelled of sheep. And they were terrified when an angel appeared to them, who wouldn’t be, honestly? Yet, they have the highest honor of an angel appearing with news of the Messiah.

Finally, my favorite part of the nativity scene as an adult…the wise men.

Somehow over the last several years, God has morphed that imagine of kings on camels majestically coming into the presence of the baby Jesus into this beautiful image of men so full of hope for God to restore the world and so full of faith to travel thousands of miles to see the Messiah in person. Men who were most likely proclaimed as crazy by those who knew why they were following a star to an unknown destination. They chose extreme risks in their adventure over continued study of the scriptures. They chose to hope with reckless abandon.

If these wise men were high and mighty where they came from, at the feet of baby Jesus they find themselves in complete humility and in awe of the honor of physically being present with the Messiah.

I see them as dusty and road weary. Exhausted, but supernaturally energized at the prospect of seeing the Messiah they had only read about in the scrolls of the prophets. They had traveled a long way to reach that point in the journey. How many different animals had they ridden? How many miles had they walked? How many new experiences had they had? How many challenges did the face? Or attempted robberies on the road?

The wise men put a lot of faith in hope in following their maps and the stars for thousands of miles. I could never imagine every challenge they faced on this crazy adventure as they crossed in and out of new cultures.

The star the wise men followed was hope that they carried with them for a new world, and a hope that carried them through a long journey.

That hope is just as real today as it was thousands of years ago. The wise men must have had so many questions and a million reasons to turn back, but they put their trust in how God spoke through the prophets. They remained focused on the one God who would send a man to redeem creation, and bring all back to the heart and grace of the one who sent him.

May you embrace the supernatural hope, extreme adventure and tunnel vision to Jesus today as you embrace inspiration from three wise (albeit crazy) men.

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hope

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Hope is a strange thing, and a lot of times we find it in strange places. Last summer there was this star I noticed that was tracking with the moon for several nights. It was the brightest star in the sky, and the first to show up at night. For whatever reason, it has been catching my eye every night and has been for months. At times over the last several months as things have spun out of control it has been a constant, beautiful reminder that my life is small and the world is massive…and that is ok.

The other day I decided I should figure out the name of the star. And what did I find? The most ironic thing ever…the star is the planet Venus.

That’s right the planet named for the goddess of love and beauty. Seriously? I wish someone could have seen my face. The star that has been twinkling and flickering for months at night, observing my prayers and allowing me to shout…is known for love and beauty.

So just to recap we are talking about me: known for no makeup (me trying to put on mascara is actually comical), never wearing heels, known for jeans/fleece and never skirts, only cutting my hair 3 times a year, much prefer action/comedy over chick flicks and refuse to carrying a ‘purse.’

That’s me…who has just figured out that the star I’ve been looking for every night at sunset, as a crazy symbol of hope, is actually a planet named for beauty and love.

After much laughter and disbelief over the irony, what I found out is that Venus is actually the least inhabitable planet in our universe. However, they think that Earth and Venus are the same at the core and are about the same size in diameter.

I’m not the only one to have had a star obsession. One of my favorite parts of the first few years of Jesus’ life is the wise men following a star to find him.

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” [Matthew 2:1-2]

They were looking for him. They traveled a great distance. They trusted that star would lead them. They knew a gift had been given in the form of a baby. Think of the perseverance that would have taken. The money they would have needed to travel that far. The sacrifices they had to make in order to stand in front of Jesus. People had to have called them insane…who follows a star?

Incredible, right? What hope they must have had…and they followed a star to find him. God orchestrated the prophecy and the fulfillment of that prophecy in such amazing ways.

Here’s to seeking stars, following your calling, trusting God, doing something radical and finding hope through Jesus in the process.